Forty Years Ago — 1973-74:  Match 17

40 years ago, Everton and Newcastle United shared second place with Liverpool and, for the winners of this game, with nearly a half of the Division One fixtures completed, it would be a useful gauge of how the rest of the season may unfold. Joe Royle made a welcome return to the first team fold as Everton hoped to capitalise on their recent win at Carrow Road and put a two-point gap between themselves and the Magpies.

Newcastle United had recently been rocked as injuries to their main strikers, Malcolm McDonald and John Tudor, had prevented those players from scoring as many goals as the previous season... although, for most of the season, injuries had threatened to undermine the team as a whole and stultify their progress. It’s difficult to understand how a club of Newcastle’s stature had failed to win a title since 1927, when their record league scorer, Hughie Gallacher, scored 36 times to help the club to become League Champions some 46 years earlier, and many people in the game, including their manager Joe Harvey, believed that the 1973-74 Newcastle United squad had its best chance to rectify that record.

Since Newcastle United had returned to Division One in 1965-66, their best league campaign had come in 1969-70 when they had ended up in 7th position a season after winning their only European trophy, when beating Ujpest Dozsa (6-2) on aggregate in the Inter-City Fairs Cup, in the two-legged final — a competition they had qualified for by attaining a 9th place finish in Division One.

Newcastle United had lost as many games on Tyneside as they had on the road: defeats by Southampton (0-1) and QPR (2-3) and a draw with Arsenal (1-1) had been surprising considering that Newcastle United had such a fervent crowd and a good team. But it wasn’t all gloom at St James's Park as Ipswich (3-1), Wolves (2-0), Man City (1-0), Chelsea (2-0), Stoke City (2-1) and Manchester United (3-2) had all been sent home empty-handed.

Wins away from home came at West Ham (2-1), Ipswich Town (3-1) and Tottenham Hotspur (0-2) although they had lost to Leicester City (1-0) at Filbert Street. Newcastle United had also suffered a shock defeat in the League Cup when Birmingham City (0-1) had won at St James's Park after drawing the first game at St Andrews (2-2)

Stewart Imlach had been employed at Goodison since 1969, firstly as an assistant trainer and then as first-team trainer he had also been the first player to represent Scotland whilst playing for Nottingham Forest and he had played in the World Cup Finals held in Sweden in 1958. In all, Stewart had represented Scotland four times but, due to a rule that was in place prior to 1970, caps had only been issued for those Scotland matches involving the other home countries.

Sadly Stewart died in 2001 and his son Gary became involved in a campaign in 2005to retrospectively award the caps. Due to Gary’s endeavours, and no little amount of public pressure, in 2006, the Scottish Football Association officially capped the players who had represented their country prior to 1970. Gary had written an award-winning book  My Father and Other Working-Class Football Heroes (Yellow Jersey) in 2005 – which I haven’t personally read, but it would seem that the book is well worth the effort for those interested in how the game evolved during the 1950s, judging from the personal recommendations I have received.

In the match programme article for ‘Clubtalk’, Stewart Imlach gave his opinion on the problems then facing small-town clubs, compared to when he and Billy Bingham (Luton Town) had lined up against each other at Wembley in the FA Cup Final of 1959. Nottingham Forest had been reduced to 10 men when the unlucky Roy Dwight had broken his leg and, as there were no substitutes in those days, Forest had to soldier on, until they eventually beat Luton Town (2-1). Stuart claimed that this may have been the only time that ten men had won the FA Cup. Many had Stewart down as the Man of the Match for his performance at Wembley that day, partly because it had been Stewart who had provided the cross for Roy Dwight to score the opening goal for Forest.

Stewart said that, when he had been a player, local players were more likely to sign for their local clubs but, as the bigger clubs began to widen their nets and had started recruiting players from all over the country, it had become increasingly difficult for the small town clubs to compete for young talent. Due to the loss of local players and the financial inequalities, he felt that the probability of a small town club winning silverware had decreased since he had played... and the possibility of having another FA Cup Final featuring two ‘unfashionable’ teams that were not from the big cities or large urban centres had been reduced, but of course not entirely eliminated.

He went on to say that “as the demand for success increases all over the country and the pressure on the participants becomes even more intense, so I can see the smaller clubs slipping further and further behind the ‘moguls’.” Stewart cited Norwich City as an example of a club who had differing targets to their big city rivals such as the two Merseyside clubs. The Canaries were, more than likely, happy to have retained their Division One status and enjoy a good run in the cup competitions, whereas, for a club such as Everton, the fans demanded a top-four finish as a minimum requirement and anything less would be seen as a failure.

The Match: John Tudor had lined up for Newcastle United in attack, but they had taken the lead with a goal from their stand-in forward Tommy Gibb (33’). Despite moving back into defence, as Joe Royle had taken up his centre-forward position, Mike Lyons had still managed to score a typical striker’s goal (45') firmly planting his diving header past Ian McFaul into the Newcastle United net to equalise and ensure that Everton hadn’t lost ground on the Magpies.

Burnley had been the club that had benefited the most from results that weekend as they had beaten Stoke City (1-0) at Turf Moor and all of the sides above them had dropped points. Leeds United had drawn at Derby County (0-0) whilst Liverpool had also drawn at Loftus Road (2-2), which meant that, after 17 games, unbeaten Leeds United (29 points), led from the front and there were four teams below them on 22 points: Newcastle United, Liverpool, Burnley and Everton.

1973-74 — First Division: Saturday, 24 November 1973
Newcastle United @ Goodison Park, Score: 1-1 (Lyons), Attendance: 34,376
Everton: Lawson; Darracott, Mclaughlin, Clements, Lyons; Hurst, Bernard; Royle, Buckley, Harper, Connolly.


Thirty Years Ago — 1983-84:  Match 17

Everton welcomed Tony Barton’s Aston Villa to Goodison Park for a Division One fixture while still dreaming about running out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley in March, as they had beaten West Ham United at Goodison in their replay of the Milk Cup semi-final tie on the Tuesday before this fixture with the men from the Midlands.

Tony Barton had been manager of Villa since he had replaced Ron Saunders in February 1982. In his first few months as boss, Barton oversaw possibly the greatest and proudest night in Aston Villa’s long and illustrious history when Captain Dennis Mortimer lifted the European Cup on Villa’s behalf after his side had beaten Bayern Munich (1-0) in the final, which had taken place in Rotterdam. Although it had been Peter Withe who had scored the winning goal, it had been largely due to a Man of the Match performance from their inexperienced goalkeeper Nigel Spink that had helped Aston Villa to defeat the German side.

Since that glorious night, Villa’s league form had been decent, but a 6th-place finish in 1982-83 – although an improvement on the league performance of the European Cup season – wasn’t quite at the level that the club and its supporters had aspired to.

Season 1983-84 had seen Aston Villa win just once away from Villa Park, in a game at Old Trafford where they had beaten Manchester United (2-1). Draws with Nottingham Forest (2-2) and at Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-1) on the road, had meant that Villa had taken only five points from a possible 21; in their away game prior to the Everton fixture, they had also been surprisingly beaten at struggling Notts County (2-5).

Aston Villa had won their first six league games at Villa Park before then crashing to Arsenal (2-6) which had equalled their worst home defeat since the War... but, following that defeat, Aston Villa had rallied and had won their matches with Leicester City (3-1) and West Ham United (1-0) on home soil.

Villa’s home form had kept the Villains in touch with the top six sides, but their away form that season had undermined a full tilt at the title. Similarly to Everton, Aston Villa had still retained hopes of winning through to Wembley in the Milk Cup, as they had progressed to the quarter-final stage by beating Portsmouth (5-4) on aggregate, Man City (3-0) at Villa Park and local rivals WBA (2-1) at the Hawthorns. European progress had been halted as Villa had lost to Moscow Spartak (3-4) on aggregate in the Uefa Cup.

Kevin Ratcliffe and Neville Southall had both been looking forward to representing Wales in their forthcoming match with Yugoslavia in Cardiff, for a make-or-break Euro 1984 qualifier. As the other Home countries had all failed to gain a place in the finals, to be held in France, Wales had been the last hope for British interests in the competition. Neville Southall said that there would be a large crowd behind his nation in Cardiff and believed that, even if Wales did not qualify, the campaign had been a good one and added “But even if we weren’t to qualify, I don’t think anyone could deny that Northern Ireland and ourselves have done best of the Home countries.”

In the Comment section, the article pondered the correlation between the number of players used by a club and its finishing position in the league table. The author argued that the fewer players used by a club usually equated to a higher league position. Citing the difference between Tottenham Hotspur (26) and Liverpool (16) in the 1982-83 campaign, where theree of thosee 16 Liverpool players had only played a total of five games, whereas Tottenham Hotspur had not been able to mount a serious title challenge even though they had full Internationals to call upon as replacements for injured or suspended players.

The article stated that Liverpool’s use of 16 players to become Champions had been about average for teams who had gone on to become Champions between 1973 and 1983. At the end of November 1983, Liverpool (14), West Ham United (16) and Manchester United (17) led the way in the table and had used the fewest players and the article argued that the eventual Champions were more likely to come from that group due to the low number of players used, rather than from other clubs such as Everton (19) and Tottenham Hotspur (22). The author summed up by stating “But in general, the more successful sides are those who can rubber-stamp the team selection with the magical word – 'Unchanged'.”

Regardless of whether the article had been correct in its assertions, from the vantage point of 2013, we can see how attitudes to squad numbers and the use of players has radically altered in the last 30 years, where squad rotation and the need to rest players has become the philosophy of the leading clubs.

Everton did not remain unchanged for this game with Aston Villa as Graeme Sharp had been replaced in the team by Adrian Heath, while Steve McMahon the former Everton player had recovered from his ankle injury and returned to the Villa team at Goodison Park.

The Match:  Villa had opened the scoring when a future Everton player, Paul Rideout, found the net... but Andy Gray managed to prevent his former club from taking all three points by scoring a late equaliser to earn Everton a share of the spoils — which had also spared the blushes of his colleague Kevin Sheedy, who had missed a penalty in the 79th minute. Howard Kendall’s view of the game“I thought it was a disappointing performance from both sides, I had said that when things are not going right, then we have to make it happen, but we didn’t do that against Villa, and I thought the crowd was right to voice disapproval of what they had seen.”

Everton (22 pts) following this result were in 14th place in the First Division, with Aston Villa (28 pts) four places ahead of the Toffees in 10th position. At the top end of the table, Manchester United (33 pts) had won at Ipswich Town (2-0) and West Ham United (33 pts) had beaten Arsenal (3-1) while league leaders Liverpool (34 pts) had crashed to a surprising defeat at Highfield Road to Coventry City (0-4), which meant their lead at the top had been cut to a single point.

1983-84 — First Division: Saturday, 10 December 1983
Aston Villa @ Goodison Park, Score: 1-1 (Gray), Attendance: 15,810
Everton:  Southall; Stevens, Bailey, Ratcliffe, Mountfield; Reid, Irvine, Heath; King (Harper) Gray, Sheedy.


Twenty Years Ago — 1993-94:  Match 17

Everton played Wimbledon six times in the 1992-93 season and had lost just the once: unfortunately, that defeat came in the FA Cup and had ended any hopes of silverware for Everton. Wimbledon (21 pts) had a point more than Everton and lay six points behind the top six teams at the start of this match; both teams would be hoping for a win to re-launch their seasons and attain a European berth.

Wimbledon were a club with modest resources and had constantly been a thorn in the side of many of their wealthier rivals; often their style of play was not to the liking of the football purists and they were rarely far away from some controversy or other. If they had been judged on results alone in their relatively brief time in the upper echelons of the English league, then they had undoubtedly done as well as, or in some cases, far better than their rivals, who numbered some far wealthier and well-established top-flight clubs.

Relying on team-spirit and a bunker mentality, Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang could give any team a game on any given day... and sometimes, much to the chagrin of many, they could play good football as well. Wimbledon hadn’t yet managed to equal their 6th-place finish of 1987 in what had been their first ever top flight campaign, but they had won the FA Cup in one of the greatest of all-time upsets in modern FA Cup final history when, in 1988, they had beaten Liverpool (1-0) at Wembley, courtesy of a Lawrie Sanchez header. Wimbledon had certainly travelled a long way since they won promotion to the Third Division in 1979.

Only Ipswich Town (0-2) had visited Wimbledon and taken all three points in 1993-94, as Wimbledon had beaten Southampton (1-0), Manchester City (1-0) and Swindon (3-0). On their travels, the ‘Dons’ had won at West Ham United (2-0) and at Norwich City (1-0), but had suffered some heavy defeats as well, losing at Leeds United (0-4) and Newcastle United (0-4) whilst in their most recent fixture they had gained a creditable draw with Tottenham Hotspur (1-1) at White Hart Lane. The League Cup had still been in Wimbledon’s sights as they had beaten Hereford (5-1) on aggregate and Newcastle United (2-1) at Selhurst Park in the most recent round; their reward for that victory had been an away fixture with Liverpool at Anfield in Round 4 of the competition.

Justin Fashanu in his column had urged his team to put in a good performance against Everton and win the match so that they could travel to Anfield for the League Cup game in good spirits, although John said that Everton had been a bit of bogey team for Wimbledon in recent years.

In a two-page feature entitled “They Said It! — 20 Years of Everton quotes”, the article reported on what current and former Everton players had said in the past:

Duncan McKenzie had said in 1978: “I would have loved to stay in Belgium. But for family reasons, I decided to move back to Britain. When I did, I found the ideal club in Everton. They are rich, ambitious and play attractive football. They could be the team which will give me my first big honours in the game.” Duncan went on to talk about his off-field exploits and he said that he first leapt over a Mini for a bet whilst with Nottingham Forest and that he could throw a golf-ball considerable distances. When he had moved to Leeds United, Norman Hunter had wanted to see how far Duncan could actually throw a golf-ball. Duncan said, “So I took the ball out on to the pitch and flung it clear over the stand on the far side! The distance was reckoned to be about 140 yards. As the article concluded, I have to agree with the author’s sentiments: “A one-off was Duncan...”!!!

The Match:  Everton’s recent record at Selhurst Park had continued as they had taken the lead thanks to a Stuart Barlow header (33’), but Greg Berry (49’) had equalised in the early stages of the second-half. The draw had done little to help either side gain ground on the teams above them.

1993-94 — Premier League: Saturday, 27 November 1993
Wimbledon @ Selhurst Park, Score: 1-1 (Barlow), Attendance: 6,934
Southall; Jackson, Watson, Ablett, Hinchcliffe; Ebbrell, Snodin, Ward, Horne (Preki); Barlow (Stuart), Beagrie, Cottee.
Unused Sub: Kearton.


Ten Years Ago — 2003-04:  Match 17

Everton, thanks to a hard-fought victory at Portsmouth, should have been in an optimistic mood when they took on another of the relegation-threatened sides in Leicester City, who visited Goodison Park on the Saturday before Christmas, 2003. If the Blues could manage to gain another three points in this fixture, Evertonians could sit down and enjoy their traditional Turkey lunches. If they failed, then the fans would probably have lost their appetites for the entire festive period and instead they would have fretted and worried about their club, and may even have spent the entire holidays trying to work out where and when their beloved team might find the necessary points to stave off a relegation dogfight.

Leicester City had returned to the Premier League as 2003 First Division Champions. With Micky Adams at the helm – he had become the Club’s manager in April 2002 – they wouldn’t have wanted to make an immediate drop back to the lower division. For that reason, and due to their close proximity to Everton in the table, only a point behind the Blues at kick-off, the Foxes undoubtedly provided Everton with a stern examination.

Prior to their relegation from the Premier League in 2002, Leicester City had spent six consecutive seasons in the top flight and had added the League Cup to their trophy collection in 2000, when they had beaten 10-man Tranmere Rovers (2-1) in the final, the last final of this competition to be played at the old Wembley stadium. A year previously, in 1999, Leicester City had lost to Tottenham Hotspur (0-1) in the final of the same competition. There would be no place in this season’s League Cup Final for the Foxes, as they had lost to Aston Villa (0-1) at Villa Park in the 3rd Round.

In their five Premier League games prior to their game at Goodison, Leicester City had won at Portsmouth (2-0) and Manchester City (3-0) whilst they had drawn at home against Charlton Athletic (1-1) and Arsenal (1-1). A defeat by Birmingham City (0-2) at the Walkers Stadium had brought their short but welcome unbeaten run to an end. Leicester City’s first five Premier League fixtures away from home had all ended in defeat for the Foxes, with perhaps, the most galling, being the defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4). In a game that the Foxes had taken a three-goal lead before half-time, Wolves then staged a remarkable second-half comeback in which they scored four times. Micky Adams said of the defeat by Wolves, “It was the worst result I have had as a manager.” He continued, “I have had a few beatings by five or six goals but can never remember losing a game from a position like that.”

As the Special Souvenir Everton Programme reminded its readers, the match against Leicester City had more significance to Everton Football Club than the mere result of the game: 20 December 2003 was the 125th anniversary of Everton’s first ever match, which had been played at Stanley Park against St Peter’s, on 20 December 1879; Everton had won by six goals to nil.

The regular column 'Bits N Bobs' informed the readers that Joe Royle’s hat-trick in the game against Leicester City at Goodison Park in November 1968 had been the last occasion a teenager had scored three goals in a first-team game... and that Peter Shilton, in all of his 1,400 games, had only once conceded seven goals — that had been in that same game at Goodison, which Everton had won 7-1.

The Match: Lee Carsley (33’) had opened the scoring in the first-half, when he latched on to a hopeful punt from David Unsworth and had then managed to bully the defenders before bundling the ball over the line, although some records show it as being an own goal; the dubious goals panel (according to Lee Carsley) did award him with the goal. But Les Ferdinand, so often a scorer against Everton, struck just before the half-time break (45’) , when he lashed in a right-footed rocket that had beaten Nigel Martyn with its sheer power.

Leicester City took the lead in the second-half when a deep cross to the far-post beat everybody except James Scowcroft who had somehow managed to stoop to reach the ball at about knee height and then headed the ball home at the Park End (58’). For the second game in row, Wayne Rooney had finished off a sweeping move when he fired his shot past the helpless Ian Walker (71’) to give Everton hope of at least taking a point from this exciting and at times frantic encounter.

Kevin Campbell had been replaced by Duncan Ferguson and almost immediately the talismanic striker had nodded David Unsworth’s long ball into the path of Tomasz Radzinski who gleefully accepted the opportunity and had put the ball into the Leicester City net (79’), and his wild celebrations rivalled that of the Goodison Park faithful. Marcus Bent, who had been booked late in the game, would have been disappointed on the day... but it wouldn’t be too long before he was playing for Everton at Goodison Park.

2003-04 — Premier League: Saturday, 20 December 2003
Leicester City @ Goodison Park, Score: 3-2 (Carsley, Rooney, Radzinski); Attendance: 37,007
Everton: Martyn; Pistone (Hibbert), Stubbs, Unsworth, Naysmith; McFadden (Rooney), Carsley, Gravesen, Kilbane; Radzinski, Campbell (Ferguson).
Unused Subs: Simonsen, Li Tie.

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Karl Masters
911 Posted 22/12/2013 at 10:21:12
Probably because that was all we got that season for most games Tony. It was the lowest average crowd that season since the Second World War - 19,300.

If you took away the Liverpool attendance of just over 51,000 and the second best attendance of just under 30,000 against Man Utd, the average crowd was around 16,500!!

1983 was dire for crowds: 12,900 against Coventry on May Bank Holiday Monday is the lowest League crowd since the 1920s.

As for why, unemployment was a major problem and to be honest I preferred away games as 16,000 rattling around in Goodison that held 53,000 usually meant a poor atmosphere, and I think a lot of us got out of the habit of going.

Tamhas Woods
955 Posted 22/12/2013 at 16:57:45
The Leicester City game (10 years ago) was my first match!

Remember it like it was yesterday!

Patrick Murphy
997 Posted 22/12/2013 at 18:43:15
Tamhas it gets worse as you get older in another 20 or 30 years it will seem like that game had been played half-an-hour ago.

Cheer Tony - I keep badgering away - trying to keep in front of the fixtures.

Karl Masters
002 Posted 22/12/2013 at 18:49:28
I don’t think Patrick gets enough credit for these wonderful articles. I’m sure there are lots of people enjoying them, I suppose all I am saying is why not tell him? Keep up the good work Mr Murphy!
Patrick Murphy
089 Posted 22/12/2013 at 21:19:02
Karl - Thank-you and your cheque is in the post - it should be with you before Christmas but I don't know what year...

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